Much of my free time in the past month has been dedicated to finishing the website text for my new business as I ready for an October launch. There’s been little time on Twitter, no new posts on either blog and rapid unsubscribing from non-relevant email blasts. Perfect timing for a serious roadblock. About three weeks ago as I was reading Bernadette Jiwa’s Make Your Idea Matter, I realized *sharp intake of breath* that Bull City Babies wasn’t the right name for my business. I shut the book and turned out the light. “I can think about this tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day,” I thought to myself.
Jiwa’s book is a frequent go-to. My copy is dog-eared, with passages underlined in red and chockfull of pink Post-its that my daughter tries to eat. I trust this book. It’s been a bit of a bible as I create my business from the ground up. But I realized – halfway through the darn book no less – that Bull City Babies did not “create lofty expectations”, “signal my difference to the world” or even mirror my vision for what I wanted to see in the world. In other words: it was a thoroughly unremarkable name. My first thought was, “Wait, this should be on page 1, NOT page 65!”. Note to self: tell Bernadette Jiwa this in hopes of saving another entrepreneur the same awful discovery.
“Bull City Babies” is cute, catchy, fun. And everyone liked it! But it didn’t communicate much about my brand (Jiwa), wasn’t a “conversation starter” (Lexicon Branding via Jiwa) and if I was being completely honest, it didn’t even mirror the scope of my services that well. It wasn’t communicating much about the company aside from harmlessness. Eeek! How hard it is to give up cute and likeable even when you know it’s the right thing to do. Cute feels safe. Cute is a kitten or a puppy, innocuous and smile worthy. And if cute works for your company, that’s awesome. But my business isn’t really about cute. Bull City Babies had to go.
The assumption is that if something is likeable, then of course people will be drawn to it and buy it. But the reality is the opposite. Likeable is vanilla. Likeable is a stuffed animal or beige wall-to-wall carpeting. All of those things are fine but they aren’t remarkable enough to be noticed or to get people to feel something that compels them to act. And that is what every business owner needs. Consider what you’re drawn to. Which business card you pick up on the back counter at Cocoa Cinnamon: the boring one with black text on flimsy card stock with the Vistaprint website address on the back OR the one that with someone’s name in large, grey cursive with an interesting checklist on the back? Even better: think of why you chose Cocoa Cinnamon over Family Fare for your am coffee.
Using the Jiwa criteria, I came up with one name that I felt lukewarm about, sent it out to a few folks for feedback, then dropped it. I have spent more time on naming my company than my husband and I spent thinking about baby names! Baby names were cake, caramel cake from Hummingbird Bakery, compared to the arduous task of naming my company but on Monday, I had a breakthrough. I’ve come up with something that I feel 90% certain is The Name. I’m feeling good. Through this process I have also become clearer on my vision for the company. That feels great! And in doing so, I acknowledged out loud (scary) something that was there all along: it’s actually not about babies at all. Funny how when we move at break neck speed we forget the forest that we’re in and only see trees.
“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” Oscar Wilde said. That sounds about right.